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bedbug-imageIt’s September, a month when students move into dorms and apartments, used furniture moves out onto the sidewalk – and unfortunately, when bed bugs can become an issue. As a health educator in the Bureau of Environmental Health, I get lots of calls this month every year from folks who are concerned about bed bugs. Here‘s what you need to know.

Bedbugs are insects that feed on blood of people and animals. Bed bug infestations are on the rise both here in Massachusetts and across the country.  Some of the reasons have to do with a ban on certain pesticides that work against bed bugs but are harmful to people, pets and the environment.

So how do bed bug infestations happen? Bed bugs can get into your home by stowing away in luggage, clothing, pocket books or backpacks during travel or if you bring used clothing or used furniture (especially upholstered or cloth-bound furniture) into your home.

The good news about bedbugs is that although they are a nuisance, they are not known to transmit any infectious diseases.  But how can you prevent them?

First, if you’re moving into a dorm, apartment or house, check any bedding or upholstered furniture especially in the seams, tufts and crevices. Even if the place was vacant when you moved in, bed bugs can survive for months without feeding so they can still be around.

For this same reason, I’d think twice about taking a sofa from someone’s sidewalk. If you do, please be sure to check the upholstery thoroughly before it sets foot in your space.

Second, when traveling take care to check for bed bugs before you go to sleep, whether in a hotel or a vacation rental.  You should look at the seams, tufts, and crevices of mattresses and box springs, bed frames, headboards, and in clutter under beds.  Also check carpets, baseboards, behind loose wallpaper, folds of curtains and drapes, clocks, radios, phones near bed or nightstand, picture frames and inside and underneath drawers.

Remember it only takes a single bed bug to get an infestation started!

To learn more about bed bugs and how to avoid bringing them into your home, read our FAQ which is available in 7 languages – or feel free to pick up the phone and call me at 617-624-5757.

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Health Educator in the Bureau of Environmental Health

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